Film Review: ‘The Croods’

A family of cavepeople struggle to survive in "The Croods." Credit: DreamWorks Animation LLC
A family of cavepeople struggle to survive Prehistoric mayhem in “The Croods.”
Credit: DreamWorks Animation LLC

‘The Croods’
Directors: Kirk DeMicco, Chris Sanders
Voices of: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone
Rating: PG
3 (out of 5) Globes

The takeaway lesson from the animated caveman saga is one about not being afraid to be curious and take chances. If this advice eludes you, you must have been sleeping, as it’s everywhere: in the very plot — about a family of frightened prehistoric Neanderthals forced to abandon their dank but safe cave home during a series of earthquakes — and in every tenth, sometimes every third, line of dialogue.

Emma Stone gives voice to a restless teen in a family who speak in an anachronistically modern vernacular, even though they still have names like “Grug” and “Ugga.” Stone’s Eep happens upon an advanced guy named Guy (Ryan Reynolds), whose superior intellect proves useful when they’re forced to relocate, much to the wigged-out consternation of their noble but wildly overprotective patriarch (Nicolas Cage).

John Cleese has a story credit, but not a screenwriting one, and it’s impossible to detect the former Monty Pythoner — much less the author of “A Fish Called Wanda” — anywhere in this family friendly chase movie with homilies. Did Cleese submit a much crazier script only for it to be declawed in the pre-production process? Almost certainly.

But it’s not bad. When not needlessly underlining and italicizing and putting in bold its token message, “The Croods” is often surprisingly loopy, even beautiful. As our family travel to new locales, the animators let loose their imagination. Bizarre animals and fauna abound, from flying, hot red piranha that descend upon and whittle down animals to the bone, and flowers with tongues.

At its best, which isn’t often enough, “The Croods” comes closer than any recent animated film to the freewheeling invention of classic mainstream animation, reminiscent (or reminiscent enough) of Disney Golden Age legend Ward Kimball. When it’s not crazy it’s at least gorgeous, with photorealistic vistas willed into life in part by Coen Brothers’ usual cinematographer, Roger Deakins, billed, as he was on “WALL-E,” as “visual consultant.”

The rest is merely more amusing/entertaining than it should be, with brief passages of inspiration peppered about the pat lessons about courage and the importance of family. Even the often-bored Cage seems at least somewhat inspired: he doesn’t affect a ridiculous accent, as he does when he’s really wound up, but he’s appropriately jazzed as a father who means well but, like the film itself, keeps clubbing people over the head with a message.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.